In Pursuit of Flow

Dr. Joel Ying, MD

Physician, Educator, Storyteller. He hosts this website for "Living the Present Moment" as a conscious journey of Body, Mind, Emotion & Spirit. Holistic and integrative, his practice includes Tai Chi and Yoga, Craniosacral Therapy, Healing From the Core, Meditation. Always exploring his edges, he shares them in the blog, newsletter, courses, and online study group.

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“Flow is the peak performance state where you feel your best and you perform your best.”
—Flow Genome Project  (

Poudre River SunsetHave you ever felt like you were “in the flow?” The artist that is connected to their “muse” with the “creative juices flowing.” The athlete that is “in the zone.” Part of a team where “we were one organism.” Perhaps in meditation, you have found a state of “inner peace” and “connection to all things.”

Today, Scientists continue to study these flow states that are often akin to spiritual experiences. New research explores the the psychology, neurobiology, pharmacology, and technology of these states. According to Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal, there are four characteristics of the flow state:

  • Selflessness
  • Timelessness
  • Effortlessness
  • Richness

Listen to the 6 minute video to learn 50 years of research in 6 minutes.

In his first book, The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, Steven Kotler explores peak performance (flow states) in extreme athletes and how we can apply their lessons to our lives. After this book, he began the Flow Genome Project with Jamie Wheal to collect all the current information about flow states and make it available to everyone.

I recently read Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal. The new book explores not just “peak performance” in athletes, but also how “flow state” technology is pervading other areas of society and how you can use it too. At the intersection of so many different fields, the book is a fascinating summary of flow research.

Since ancient times, access to this flow state has been kept to a select few. Stealing Fire opens with ancient Greek history of a stolen potion and then expands into the current research on the flow state. The authors explore the ways in which this knowledge has evolved in the diverse areas from the military to business, athletes to artists, researchers to hippies, and now to the general public. Learn how top executives, researchers, and even military are hooking into “flow.”

Why should you be interested in flow? More flow in your life equates to a more meaningful and fulfilled life. More flow allows more creativity and aliveness. Check out the new book, Stealing Fire, and the website.

Watch the video blog by the “modern performance philosopher” Jason Silva.

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